Our writer previews the opening round of Telkom Knockout matchups.
The Telkom Knockout is exactly what South African football lovers want to see right now – the kick – off of a new cup competition. Following Bidvest Wits being crowned MTN8 champions and Mamelodi Sundowns all but sealing the CAF Champions League crown in the first leg of the final, who wouldn’t love to see their team make a cup final or even better celebrate as champions.
Thirteen-time TKO champions Kaizer Chiefs, three-time holders Mamelodi Sundowns as well as two-time winners Wits are the favourites to be the last team standing. However, anything can happen and that is the beauty of the TKO. In the 2013 final, Platinum Stars proved this by defeating much-fancied Orlando Pirates 2-1 in the final, a year after Bloemfontein Celtic got the better of giants Sundowns, winning 1-0. Could this be another season we see an underdog win a major South African trophy or will one of the favourites reign supreme?
Wednesday 19 October
Cape Town City 37/20 | Draw 33/20 | Bloemfontein Celtic 37/20The highly anticipated Telkom Knockout kicks off with Cape Town City taking on Bloemforntein Celtic. The Citizens were disappointing lat time out, going down 2-1 in the league on home soil against newcomers Baroka FC. It was the first time in which they lost at home this term and they will be eager to return to winning ways.
Phunya Sele Sele are 12th on the log in the league with just four points from six matches. They did, however, manage to claim their first league victory of the campaign with a hard-fought and impressive 1-0 win away to Platinum Stars. Nonetheless, cup matches cane be a totally different ball game and who knows which Celtic side will rick up.
The last four meetings have seen two stalemates, and two victories in favour of Cape Town City, who scored five goals without conceding in any of the encounters. This one is expected to go down to the wire, but the Citizens are tipped to come out on top.
Friday 21 October
Highlands Park 14/10 | Draw 21/10 | Chippa United 18/10
Highlands Park were runners-up in the 1982 edition of this cup, then known as the Datsun Challenge. The Lions of the North have not been enjoying a good run form since being promoted to South Africa’s top-tier of football. On the opening day of the ABSA Premiership, they came from a goal down to beat fellow new boys Baroka FC 2-1 thanks to goals from Collins Mbesuma and Charlton Mashumba. The four games that followed were poor, picking up a point at newly-formed Cape Town City and losing the other three. The Lions of the North need to work hard on strengthening the defence as they haven’t kept a clean sheet in the five games they have played to date. Aside from Brandon Theron’s consolation goal against SuperSport, only Mbesuma and Mashumba have found the back of the net, racking up five goals between them.
Chippa began their season in high spirits, beating Free State Stars 2-1 and Platinum Stars 2-0. Following those wins, they impressively drew with SuperSport and Sundowns, both of which were goalless. It’s never easy to keep potentially Africa’s best team at the moment Sundowns from scoring but they did. However, in the next round of the MTN8, Sundowns got the better of Chippa, winning 1-0. The Chilli Boys bounced back from that defeat by thrashing Baroka 4-1, but then lost their most recent league match 1-0 to the in-form Golden Arrows at the Princess Magogo Stadium. A tight contest is expected, both teams are tipped to cancel each other out in 90 minutes.
Saturday 22 October
23/10 Free State Stars | Draw 22/10 | Bidvest Wits 11/10
Ea Lla Koto are having a torrid early season and are yet to win a game across all competitions. Giovanni Solinas’s team are struggling to score goals, Charles Kampi scored once in a 2-1 defeat to Chippa and Goodman Dlamini has scored once earning a 1-1 draw against Maritzburg United. These are the only two goals they have scored to date. Stars fell at the hands of quality opposition in Kaizer Chiefs and in-form Golden Arrows following goalless draws against SuperSport United and Bloemfontein Celtic.
Gavin Hunt and his Clever Boys will be keen to add more silverware to their trophy cabinet after being crowned MTN8 champions. Wits are having a splendid 2016/17 campaign to date and are unbeaten in the seven games they’ve played, winning five. Only Kaizer Chief’s Lorenzo Gordinho and Orlando Pirates’ Oupa Manyisa have penetrated the Wits defence. A strong defence is always key when playing knockout games. Wits will be keen to better their 2011 TKO performance when they were undone by Pirates in the final. The Clever Boys are tipped to get the job done in Free State.
5/10 Kaizer Chiefs | Draw 28/10 | Maritzburg United 6/1
Amakhosi got off to a poor start to the season, losing their first league game 2-1 to Bidvest Wits and shockingly being knocked out of the MTN8 at the hands of Eric Tinkler’s Cape Town City by a 1-0 defeat. The Glamour boys bounced back, drawing 1-1 at home to Platinum Stars and going on to win the next four games comfortably – keeping four clean sheets in the process. Chiefs now sit at the summit of the Premier Soccer League, leading second-placed Arrows on goal difference. Amakhosi are the most successful team in the history of this competition, last crowned TKO champions in 2010 for the 13th time and most recently lost last season’s final 3-1 to Sundowns.
Maritzburg United kicked off their season with a 1-0 win in Bloemfontein downing Celtic thanks to Kurt Lentjies’ goal. The six games that followed were terrible, unable to score and win. Lentjies scored his and Maritzburg’s second goal of the season in the most recent fixture, earning them a draw away to Free State Stars. Winless in five, the Team of Choice will struggle to cause Chiefs any problems and the home win is tipped confidently.
7/10 SuperSport | Draw 24/10 | Ajax Cape Town 43/10
2014 TKO champions SuperSport United began the season with two losses which wasn’t ideal to coach Stuart Baxter’s plans for the season. Matsatsantsa have slowly improved, going unbeaten in their last five matches, but they’ve drawn three times. Baxter’s troops have quality in their ranks but they need to gel as a unit to turn those draws into wins.
Ajax Cape Town started the season off horribly. Of the five games played, they have drawn 1-1 twice against Baroka and Polokwane City. The other three games were losses against giants Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates as well as a defeat in the derby against Cape Town City. Nathan Paulse is the only player to hit the back net for the Urban Warriors, scoring three goals in five appearances. This is an area where much improvement needs to be made if Ajax are to remain in South Africa’s top-tier. SuperSport thrashed Highlands Park 4-1 in their last outing and are tipped to win at 7/10.
Sunday 23 October
19/20 Orlando Pirates | Draw 22/10 | Golden Arrows 26/10
Orlando Pirates’ season hasn’t been ideal to date and fans will be disappointed and expecting much more. A second half hat-trick by Tendai Ndoro saw them roll over Golden Arrows 3-1 in the first game, that win was followed by a 2-1 defeat in the MTN8 at the hands of eventual champions Wits. They bounced back with a 2-1 win over Ajax with Ndoro snatching himself a brace. Thereafter, Muhsin Ertugral’s charges have drawn their last three games on the spin against Cape Town City, Platinum Stars and Polokwane City. Pirates will be keen to improve their poor record in this competition, finishing as runners-up a record seven times and only crowned champions once in 2011.
As mentioned above, Golden Arrows lost to the Bucs in the opening game of the season, but that has been their only hiccup. Abafana Bes’thende are unbeaten in the five matches that followed with four wins, which has lifted them to 2nd on the ABSA Premiership behind leaders Chiefs only on goal difference. Clinton Larsen has got his team getting the desired results and would dearly love a cup run. This is a tough one to call with the sides tipped to share the spoils.
13/10 Baroka FC | Draw 2/1 | Platinum Stars 2/1
Baroka FC drew with Ajax to kick off their campaign and got impressive away wins at Platinum Stars and Cape Town City. Between those wins they have lost three matches against Highlands Park, Wits and Chippa. They are inconsistent but a good sign is that they have only failed to score once, which was against Bidvest Wits.
Their opponents, Platinum Stars, will be keen to do well in a competition that has been kind to them in the past. They were crowned TKO champions in 2006 and 2013 as well as finishing runners-up in 2003 and 2014. Dikwena beat SuperSport 1-0 in their first game of the season but things have gone downhill of late as they are now winless in five matches. After earning draws against giants Chiefs and Pirates, they were beaten by Chippa United, Baroka and Bloemfontein Celtic. The Crocodiles have only scored three goals so far and improvement is needed. Take Platinum Stars on the Win/Draw Double Chance at 5/10.
Thursday 27 October
Sundowns 4/10 | Draw 3/1 | Polokwane City 8/1 (*Forecast betting)
Three-time TKO champions Sundowns have got over the 3-0 loss to Wits in the MTN8 final, by dishing out a convincing 3-0 victory against Zamalek in the 1st final of the CAF Champions League. The final is all but won already and clearly Bafana Ba Style are the best African team on the continent. The Brazilians won’t want to linger on the glory of being African champions but will rather be looking for more silverware, that’s what true champions expect of themselves. They have won all four of the home games played this campaign.
Luc Eymael’s Polokwane City will have a tough afternoon on their hands. They lost the first match of the season 2-0 to Cape Town City, but have shown fight and are now unbeaten in five games. They earned gritty draws against Wits, Ajax and Pirates as well as getting the better of Highlands Park and Maritzburg United. Sundowns are in a different class though and should oust their opponents.
TREBLE @ 4/1
Wits Win 11/10
Chiefs Win 5/10
SuperSport Win 7/10
Written by Doctor’s Orders @Hollywoodbets